Texas A&M (15-4, 4-2 in SEC) has seen most of its SEC action come down to the wire this season, and more tight finishes could be in store over the next couple of games, starting with a matchup on the road against the No. 19 LSU Tigers (15-4, 3-4 in SEC) on Wednesday night at Maravich Assembly Center.
Both teams are searching for answers in the midst of a mid-season slump. The Aggies have lost two in a row at the hands of Kentucky and Arkansas. The Tigers haven't picked up a win since Jan. 12 against Florida and are in a three-game losing streak of their own.
Despite the losses, Wednesday night's matchup is a rare battle of two teams that have an elite knack of swiping at the ball and forcing a high volume of turnovers. LSU is currently No. 1 in all of Division 1 with 11.6 steals per game, while the Aggies are not far behind at No. 5 with 10.8 steals per game.
The Tigers have seven different players averaging a steal or more per game, as guards Xavier Pinson (2.1 steals) and Eric Gaines (2.0 steals) lead the charge on the defensive perimeter.
The Aggies' steal-leader is junior guard Andre Gordon (1.6), but the team found defensive success off the bench in Saturday's overtime loss to Arkansas, as guards Wade Taylor IV and Aaron Cash registered two and three steals, respectively. The production on defense could come from anywhere for coach Buzz Williams' team.
It's true for every game, but the team with the fewest turnovers will almost certainly find itself on top.
Offensively, both teams match up quite evenly and are middle of the pack in terms of scoring production in the SEC.
The Aggies are sixth in the conference at 74.9 points per game, while LSU is eighth at 73.3 points per contest.
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The Tigers are led in scoring by sophomore forward Tari Eason (16.0 points), who has shouldered an impressive scoring load in his first season at LSU. What makes his production even more meaningful is the fact he's done it while coming off the bench in every game he's played this season for coach Will Wade.
For the Aggies, an element of surprise might be the key if they want to pull out a road win over a ranked opponent. Texas A&M has a balanced scoring attack that can see any number of guys take control on any given night.
Senior guard Quenton Jackson leads the way at 12.6 points per game, something he has done in a consistent role off the bench for most of this season.
Yet, Henry Coleman III could be the focal point of the offense against the Tigers. He's led A&M in scoring three out of the last four games and had a five-game double-digit scoring streak snapped in Saturday's loss to the Razorbacks.
Wednesday night's matchup should be full of high-level defense and maybe a few surprises from each team. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. C.T.
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